April 14, 2015
The Toronto Star
Unless there is widespread public opposition, the speed limit on hundreds of local residential roads in Toronto and East York will soon be lowered from 40 km/h to 30 km/h.
“From the residents that we’ve heard from, the vast majority are strongly in support of safer roads in our neighbourhoods,” Councillor Josh Matlow said Tuesday after the move was unanimously approved by Toronto and East York Community Council.
He emphasized that the change doesn’t affect main streets or collector roads.
A pedestrian hit by a vehicle at 30 km/h versus 40 km/h is “literally the difference between life and death.”
“This is not about creating congestion, this is not about making it more difficult for people to get from point A to point B in our city. This is about changing the environment in our neighbourhoods where kids play, where we all cross the streets.”
Not doing so would be “willfully ignorant,” Matlow said, simply because “there’s some sense that we should be able to go as fast as we want wherever we go.”
A public meeting on the subject will be held in June at city hall. Assuming the feedback is positive, and if city staff present councillors with a complete report, community council could vote as early as June to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h within the old city of Toronto and East York.
Local roads with TTC routes may be exempt, Matlow said.
“I can’t give you a hard date until we know what the report will say, but I can tell you unequivocally that we will be moving forward to slowing speed limits on local neighbourhoods, in June of this year.”
Thousands of new signs will have to be erected and others replaced — a small price to pay for saving lives, he added. Last week, members of the public works committee could not agree on a proposal to expand the number of residential streets with 30 km/h speed limits.
Some councillors called the proposed criteria needlessly complicated, while others said such slowdowns would not be popular in their wards.
Matlow said that ad hoc approach goes against the intent of Toronto and East York Community Council to “provide the reliability and predictability for drivers.”
“You don’t change the culture if it’s still this unreliable, hodge-podge mishmash of different speed limits throughout our neighbourhood roads.”
Community Council has the delegated authority to lower speed limits on local roads within its boundaries without the full city council’s approval.
Council could, however, take the “extreme, dramatic step” of overruling the local council’s authority with a two-thirds vote.
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